Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press via AP
Poor Justin Trudeau. The Canadian Prime Minister faces an election in a just a few weeks, and the centerpiece of his re-election efforts seems to be falling flat with voters across the political spectrum. Trudeau is calling for a ban and compensated confiscation of “assault weapons” over a two-year period, and changing federal law to allow municipalities to ban handguns. You’d think gun control advocates would be cheering the proposal, but a growing number of anti-gun Canadians say the proposal simply doesn’t go far enough.
Meeting with Trudeau on Tuesday in Richmond Hill, Ont., local leaders said they would like to see a national prohibition on handguns, which he has refused to commit to — opting instead for an assault-rifle ban.
“It’s ineffective unless it’s more widespread. So all of us here would have preferred to see it nationally,” said Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie.
“At this time, however, we are appreciative of the funding announcement that will go directly to help us fund guns and gangs (programs) and give us the resources that we need directly.”
Crombie said she hopes Ontario mayors will encourage Premier Doug Ford — who has said he opposes a handgun ban — to green-light municipalities’ efforts to prohibit all firearms.
I confess, my first thought was that Trudeau was still trying to appear to be “reasonable” on guns by allowing cities to ban handguns but not to push for a nationwide ban. According to the cabinet minister who laid the groundwork for Trudeau’s gun control platform, the decision to back off a handgun ban may have had more to do with money than anything else.
Liberal candidate Bill Blair, who served as Toronto police chief for a decade, suggested that a handgun buy-back program factored into the Grits’ decision to hold off on a ban, estimating it would cost about $1.5 billion.
“The average price of these guns, say, would be somewhere in the neighbourhood of $1,500 — and I haven’t got the precise number on that — and then there’s a million of them,” he said.
“I think you can do the math — that’s a lot of money.”
That doesn’t matter to gun control activists, frankly. They’d argue it’s well worth the price in order to “get guns off the street”, and Trudeau’s actually on the defensive within his own party over the lack of a nationwide handgun ban in his campaign platform.
Meanwhile, Canadian gun owners are understandably furious and concerned about Trudeau’s proposals. The Canada Coalition for Firearm Rights’ Tracy Wilson says the gun grab is all about publicity, not public safety.
“A big part of his platform and a huge expense to taxpayers, is going to be this gun buyback program. To take legal guns that are lock in the safes of legal licence vetted gun owners, who use them at government approved ranges only, and take them and put them in the smelter.”
She alleges the gun control policy was not motivated by studies or facts, but by publicity. She points to the New Zealand response in the aftermath of the Christchurch shooting. Their Prime Minister quickly put into law a gun bans and saw strong positive response from people across the world.
I doubt Trudeau is going to reverse himself and call for a nationwide ban on handguns on the campaign trail, but if his Liberal Party wins the October elections and he remains as prime minister, don’t be surprised if Liberal politicians in Parliament decide they prefer a complete ban on handguns rather than the piecemeal one promised by Trudeau.